The house next door to us is vacant, because of a foreclosure, and is for sale. No one is taking care of the property and it looks terrible – weeds, overgrown grass and a pile of newspapers are just a few of the problems. We have cut the grass and picked up and discarded the newspapers but could use some help. Can we ask our other neighbors to pitch in?

Yes, absolutely. Invite them for coffee and a discussion about who else might lend a hand with this neighborhood eyesore. First, however, call the realtor listing the property and explain the situation. They need to address the problem if they, or the bank they represent, are responsible for the house. If that doesn’t reap a positive response, you can register a complaint with the town. Send photos of the unkempt property as part of your request.

I’ve just been promoted to a management job with a staff reporting to me. There have been some morale problems in the organization that I need to handle with my new staff. Can you give me a few ideas for things to discuss with them?

There are six basic rules that you need to introduce and then enforce. First, no emails, texts, social media postings or voice messages that are negative about your company. The standard philosophy is that if you can’t put something you have written on the company bulletin board, don’t write it. Nothing, basically, is confidential once it’s been posted or written.  Second, no foul language. This tops the list of offensive practices in the office. Third, no gossip. Gossip contributes to low morale. Obviously, number four speaks for itself: no drinking on the job. Fifth, do not sneak-leave the office. You owe your employer your time and if you cut it short, it reflects badly on you and is cause for losing your job. Last, do not conduct personal conversations during work time on your desk phone or your cell phone, or abuse company computer policies about personal use. Again, your time belongs to the organization. This is a good, core list of behaviors to improve that ultimately can help the morale problem you need to address.

Do I tip less for breakfast or lunch at a restaurant than for dinner?

No, your tip is not based on the time of day or type of meal. In the northeast, tips are most usually 18% - 20% of the cost of your meal, before tax, whether breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner.

Is it acceptable to invite people to a bridal shower when they aren’t invited to the wedding?

Generally, no. Only those who will be invited to the wedding should be invited to a shower. The two exceptions are when the wedding will be family-only or a destination wedding to which only family and perhaps very close friends are invited. A shower, in this case, would give other friends and extended family the opportunity to spend time with the bride-to-be.

Contact Catherine at